Metro Detroit autoworkers return to work Monday with safety measures in place

Plants were shuttered in mid-March to prevent spread of coronavirus

Sunday, May 17, 2020 weather forecast
Sunday, May 17, 2020 weather forecast

DETROIT – Autoworkers for Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are returning to work Monday after plants closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tens of thousands of workers are returning since the plants were shuttered in mid-March. Safety measures will be in place including social distancing practices, frequent disinfections and heath screenings.

The Big Three have all been preparing for the restart of factories by testing safety protocols in the plants that have remained in operation to produce personal protection equipment and ventilators.

Inside the General Motors Warren Transmission plant United Auto Workers and GM volunteers churned out face masks for hospitals all over the state. Employees wore face masks and sometimes shields.

“Where our coronavirus safety protocols have been in place we have not seen a confirmed case of community spread in our facilities,” said General Motors CEO, Mary Barra.

Ford is also calling back approximately 71,000 hourly and salaried workers starting Monday.

The automaker says they are making major changes to keep workers safe including screening workers each day and altering shift changes.

Workers will also work from opposite ends of a vehicle instead of being inches apart to stay socially distant.

“Epidemiologists are telling us this is one of the biggest issues that we got to pay attention to. So because we have these huge factories you know I’m talking about two to three million square feet of space, there’s a lot of room to actually think about doing this the right way,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett.

Ford also plans to use sanitation, contact tracing, and quarantining if an employee gets sick.

“This is going to be one of the safest place to be, frankly, from getting what we’ve got to do now, is if somebody catches it, then we will go into action,” said Hackett.

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About the Author:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.